Safety: Our highest priority

October 13, 2023

Earlier this week I shared a message condemning violence as we heard the initial reports of the horrific attack by Hamas terrorists on Israel and the loss of so many civilian lives. As the fighting continues, the death toll is mounting among Israelis and Palestinians.

To be clear, I stand by my earlier message that unequivocally condemns the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel. Speaking with moral clarity against any act of terrorism is not, and should not, be controversial at the University of Michigan.

Our campus community is grappling with the profound scale of this unfolding tragedy. We mourn the loss of lives in both Israel and Gaza. Over the last few days, hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and others have reached out to me to express their concerns about the safety of our campus community and to share the collective impact of the recent violence.

We want to be absolutely clear to each and every one of you – your safety is our highest priority.

Our leadership team is committed to creating a community where every student, faculty member, staff member, or visitor – regardless of their background, how they look or what they believe – can thrive without the fear of threats, intimidation, or violence.

We care deeply about everyone’s safety and have created mechanisms and programs that allow us to honor that promise.

Violence is never the answer

The University of Michigan has a long history of activism around the most consequential and challenging issues facing society. We will embrace this legacy in the days ahead.

We will continue to defend everyone’s right to speak freely – and just as vigorously defend the rights of those who believe otherwise to speak just as loudly. Freedom of speech is a bedrock principle of our community and essential to our core educational mission as a university.

But we will not tolerate violence. Your life matters. Our lives, collectively, matter.

No one – regardless of their background, their ethnicity, their religious beliefs, their political leanings – will be allowed to use violence or intimidation to force their beliefs on others.

Violence is never the answer.


Santa J. Ono, PhD

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